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Why the sky's not the limit as tech firms push the boundaries


Taking off: drones are tipped to become a bestseller in 2017

Taking off: drones are tipped to become a bestseller in 2017

Taking off: drones are tipped to become a bestseller in 2017

Eager to know which gadgets we'll all be talking about in 2017? From Virtual Reality to smartphones and drones, leading tech experts and retailers share their predictions for the year's biggest launches.

Smart homes

Tom Morgan, reviews editor at Stuff magazine, says: "2017 is shaping up to be a massive year for tech, as long as you don't mind handing your home over to the Internet of Things.

"Google Home and Amazon Echo will turn your lights on and off, set your robot vacuum cleaner off on cleaning duty, and open your smart-locked doors, all from a few simple phrases.

"We can't wait to stay on top of the housework firmly from the comfort of the sofa, while we bathe our eyeballs in jaw-droppingly clear 4K, HDR (high dynamic range) video.

"When it's finally time to leave the house, you'll be able to go further in your electric car, which won't cost you the earth to buy.

"Tesla's Model 3 should finally show up, starting at around £35,000, and other car makers will finally catch up when it comes to mileage too.

"And, of course, expect a brand new phone in your pocket, with the Samsung S8 launching in March and the next iPhone in September.

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"The iPhone is shaping up to be the best yet, with a curved, Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) screen rumoured to be in the works."

Virtual Reality

Hannah Bouckley, Tech & Gadgets content manager for BT.com, says: "Virtual Reality became more common in 2016, but it will take off in 2017, when a free update brings VR capabilities to Windows 10 machines.

"We'll be hearing more about a sound technology called Dolby Atmos, that creates an immersive audio experience to make you feel part of the action. It's already in cinemas, but with Xbox One, Windows 10 PCs and BT TV support incoming, it's set to head into more homes."

Jon Wadelton, chief technology officer at TheFoundry.co.uk, adds: "2017 will be the year VR technology, such as headsets, becoming more commonplace.

"Big players like Microsoft and Samsung are already producing VR hardware, and you should expect to see Apple join the race next year too. The upcoming iterations of headsets will likely push prices down, making them more affordable."

Virtual assistants

Joe Minihane, technology journalist for Wired, Stuff and Uswitch, says: "Virtual assistants have been the novelty factor on smartphones ever since Apple launched Siri in 2011.

"However, 2017's set to see the technology become more integral to the smartphone experience, especially with Samsung's long-rumoured Galaxy S8. It's all thanks to Samsung snapping up start-up Viv Labs, which developed the original tech for Siri.

"Viv's new tech is said to be way beyond what it built for Apple all those years ago, allowing for more realistic conversations between users and their phones.

"While 2016's Google Assistant tool led the way, Samsung's Viv-powered service is likely to be smarter and capable of completing complex tasks without users having to so much as touch their devices."

Nintendo Switch

Tom Wiggins, deputy editor at Stuff magazine, says: "Aside from the usual iPhone launch in the autumn, and Samsung's attempts to banish the memory of the Note 7 by making a phone that's a little less explosive, the launch of Nintendo's Switch will be one to watch in 2017.

"Its new tablet-like console, which can be played on-the-go or attached to your TV, is definitely a gamble, but only Nintendo has the imagination to even try something like this. Whether it also has the support needed to make it work is another matter entirely, but it's going to be fun finding out."

Mega TVs

Daniel Hastings, category director for consumer electronics at Dixons Carphone, says: "4K and mega screen TVs spanning 55-inches and above are predicted to be popular throughout the year, but notably we're expecting 70-inch plus to see increased interest.

"As well as this, OLED TVs, which feature self-emitting pixels, meaning they completely switch off, allowing no light to pass through the pixel, are also expected to be popular.

"Connected audio is expected to continue its success into 2017. After a year which saw wireless and voice-controlled speakers, such as Amazon Echo, become a home staple, this category is expected to go from strength to strength, including everything from wireless headphones and voice-activated audio to smart sound and speaker systems."


Alphonse Madamombe, category manager at Maplin, says: "Drones were one of our bestselling gifts in 2016 and we expect this trend to continue, with even smaller drones that can fly for longer.

"These new drones will be portable and easy to pack away in luggage when travelling, without necessarily compromising on the features and benefits.

"Sky is also rumoured to be investing in a drone-racing programme, which, if true, will undoubtedly propel drones further into the mainstream."


Carla Treece, cycling buyer at Halfords, says: "We've seen the innovations in alternative commuting go from strength to strength and predict that e-bikes will be the next big thing for commuters. We've just launched a Victoria Pendleton e-bike."

New smartphones

Andy Cartledge, digital marketing executive at Mobiles.co.uk, says: "In 2017, most eyes will be on Samsung, who are expected to reveal the latest Galaxy smartphone after the success of the S7 and S7 Edge.

"Other notable expectations include a new flagship HTC device, currently mooted to be named HTC Ocean, and rumoured to feature no physical buttons. If this is the case, it could prove to be a real game-changer.

"And let's not forget the return of former giants Nokia, who are likely to rejoin the global market with at least two new handsets, although any further info is currently thin on the ground."

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